An E-newsletter on EXCELLENCE in Leadership

Consideration of Assignments

Consistent with the responsibility to provide appropriate supervision for all student activities, principals must assign sponsorship roles to faculty and staff. When assigning sponsorships, keep the following in mind:

  • Consult the union Education Code for stated expectations on teacher loads.
  • Balance academic load and sponsorship responsibilities for individuals and across the staff.


  • Solicit interests and preferences of the faculty in sponsorship assignments.
  • Consider student input before finalizing sponsorships.


Orientation for Sponsors

The principal should ensure that each sponsor is orientated to the responsibilities and the expectations of the assigned sponsorship. Among the items that sponsors should be aware of are:

  • Number and nature of activities
  • Finances and fund raising
  • Calendar of events
  • Eligibility standards for members and officers
  • Election procedures
  • Goals and objectives
  • Local cultures and traditions
  • Supervisory expectations

Expectations of Student Activity Sponsors/Coaches

To implement the goals of the student activity, the following standards and expectations should be established for all sponsors:

  • Communicate with the principal, faculty, students, and parents.
  • Follow established procedures for requisitioning materials, facility, vehicle use, and claiming reimbursement for expenses.
  • Be accountable for all activity funds.
  • Protect and maintain the school and its resources.
  • Uphold Adventist standards and guidelines.
  • Ensure the safety and welfare of all participants.
  • Maintain school codes, rules, ideals of fair play, and appropriate behavior.

November 2017 | Volume 6, No. 4

A Quarter-Century of Sponsoring “Senior Survivals” . . . What Did I Learn?

Marvin Thorman | Principal, Gem State Adventist Academy



 When sponsoring a recurring activity, you have to make it your own. I started co-sponsoring with one of the old-timers. When I took the lead a few years later, our new leadership team had a vision to hone the spiritual impact of the week-long activity. We changed the focus from an outing to find your fellow student leaders to a week devoted to challenging students to build a Christ-centered community. Both students and adults have found spiritual anchor points through their Senior Survival experience. We evaluated the program, made a few changes, both major and minor, and by the grace of God, developed a program that has changed many lives. Always seek improvement and make it your own!

The second takeaway is to be energized and passionate about what you are doing. You need to believe it makes a difference in students learning for life. Pouring your heart and soul into a time-consuming, complex organizational behemoth can leave you spent. Planning to take a hundred students and staff into the woods for five days at the beginning of each school year would make me question my sanity. However, like clockwork, each year when the seniors descended on camp, I knew what kept me going. The new light in their eyes, the spiritual break-through, the first-hand encounters with God, the changing perspective of God – these were the life-changing student experiences that renewed my passion and energy to continually press forward.

A third important lesson that I learned was that strength lies in a God-centered team. The results of the program were life-impacting because our purpose and our people were focused on God’s leading and teaching. Having team members not only lends physical support for all the facets of the Senior Survival program, but many team members added a three-dimensional perspective of God. Each person on the team brought his/her own experience to the week and a bigger God was revealed. To encourage students to build a Christ-centered community could only be done effectively from the modeling we showed of a Christ-centered community of adult leaders.

Lastly, prepare others for the time when you must pass the leadership baton. I could do this gracefully when I left my last school, because God had provided a team to carry on. I spent two years mentoring them, and the last year I was there I watched while they led. It may be difficult to step back and let go, but they will step up, make it their own program, lead in ways that they are passionate about, and likely experience new exciting results. It has been rewarding to hear that during the past three years since I left, there has been a God-centered committed team of individuals sharing their own perspective of God in a way that has continued to create spiritual anchor points for seniors.


are the


Kimberley Mitchell | English/art/speech teacher,
Gem State Adventist Academy



I learned the value of being a sponsor from many motivating mentors, but specifically, as a teacher from the actions of my first principal, and as a student from my 8th grade teacher. During my six years of working at Boise Valley Adventist School, Mr. Allan Sather served as my principal. I learned how to make a real difference from modeling his examples: he greeted every student and parent every morning, he never forgot a teacher’s birthday (I still have my kitten pin when I turned 38), and he threw the football with the students every recess. Mr. Dwight Crow taught at Boise Valley Junior Academy during my 8th and 9th grade years. He forever changed my life by teaching me how to play softball, trusting me to babysit his child, and giving me his own copy of Mere Christianity.

These men showed me the power of relationships, providing the key for my success as a teacher and sponsor. They showed their feelings and priorities through their actions. This is what I strive to pass on to my students. Mr. Sather and Mr. Crow’s example is what motivated me to step far out of my comfort zone by volunteering with my Gem State Adventist Academy students to help in the cleanup of Hurricane Katrina: sleeping in one big tent with hundreds of others, taking cold showers, and digging through the ruins of people’s lives. The relationships forged from those circumstances with those students in 2005 created forever bonds that still tie us together today. Mr. Sather and Mr. Crow’s example is what encouraged me to brave whitewater rafting, repel over a cliff, and participate in a trust fall with my senior class in 2016. Those students and I will never forget those learning moments filled with accomplishment and triumph. Mr. Sather and Mr. Crow’s example is also what prompted me to lead tours to Europe, expanding my own horizons and realizing my own dreams, showing my students the places we are studying about in person, opening their minds to new ideas by experiencing travel, food, and other cultures first hand.

What I do in the classroom matters. I believe in the value of what I teach, opening up doors for success in this world and the next through better communication and thinking abilities, but I believe the key to opening the door to lasting relationships is sponsoring events, activities, and experiences. I believe the personal relationships I develop with my students make what happens in the classroom even more effective. So, it does not matter if it is dressing up for the themed Fall Festival, shooting hoops in the gym after school, or taking time to listen, actions definitely can communicate louder than words.

Professor Mehrabian conducted studies into human communication patterns and concluded that “communication is only 7 percent verbal and 93 percent non-verbal.” The mentors I am blessed to work with continue to make a difference regardless of how many years I serve; these are just a few stories of how my life has been changed. I believe that I will get to hang out in heaven with Mr. Sather, Mr. Crow, and all my treasured “sponsors,” and I believe, by God’s grace and my mentor’s influences in my life, I will see my students in His kingdom as well.

The “Nuts and Bolts” of Being a Sponsor

Dennis Plubell | vice-president for education, north pacific union conference







C o-curricular education activities are vital to supporting student learning beyond the classroom. Like all good learning opportunities there must be a teacher. A “sponsor” is the leader, coordinator and, yes, teacher. The purpose of school-wide or specific group activities should be integral to the school’s mission of providing whole-person education – spiritually, socially, physically, and academically. If this is true, then every sponsor is a teacher!


Successful sponsors must have a thorough knowledge of the school’s operational protocols—participation guidelines, safety requirements, supervision expectations, financial processes, transportation protocols, etc. Principals from several northwest Adventist academies gave a window into the “nuts and bolts” of sponsorships for classes, clubs, special tours/trips, school-side student associations, and other student organizations. Here is what they said:


principal responses from
Aubrey Fautheree | Skagit Adventist School
Brian Harris | Walla Walla Valley Academy
Stephanie Gates | Cascade Christian Academy


What must be considered when seeking to balance the teachers’ academic load with sponsorship assignments? Do you consider staff interests/requests?


Staff feel secure in knowing that the administrator has tried to balance the extra-curricular by considering all ‘extra’ assignments beyond the classroom. Of course, the classroom assignment is important also. Are the teachers teaching a new course or curriculum, serving on conference committees or school evaluations, and is this a “large sponsorship” (i.e. ASB, senior class, etc.)? We rotate the large sponsorships. And, yes, we consider the teachers’ interests. But, all know that it is a team effort. We are no longer large enough to give a “sabbatical” year off from sponsorships.


How are sponsors oriented to expectations and responsibilities of sponsors, generally, and specific groups at your school?


With a small staff and with years of experience the details are easily shared. However, other schools have found it important to include expectations and processes in the staff handbook. For example, things such as fundraising policies and calendar requirements are listed. In one school there were supplemental documents that detail the traditional events for each class/organization every year. We always spend ample time in pre-session, throughout the year, and in review during post-session, trying to improve the coordination of activities and student involvement.

Describe how sponsored activities are vetted. How do you ensure that they are aligned with the schools’ focus for student learning and scheduled in the school calendar?



Many activities are traditional yearly events and are “pre-approved” and already on the master calendar. All requests for new activities/events go through an approval process by the Administrative Council. In small schools this is our staff. We have a Google form that sponsors must complete to request an activity (documentation is important), and it includes a question about how it fits into our mission as well as other pertinent details.

How do you ensure sponsors are accountable for financial transactions, fundraising, facility access (and clean up), and student safety?



We have guidelines for student fundraising in our handbook. Reimbursements occur only with valid receipts for expenditures. Some years the business manager has provided monthly statements for organizational trust funds which sponsors appreciate. Staff meeting usually includes a check of supervision, safety, and facility use protocols prior to events. Security is becoming important also.

When do you provide time for student groups to meet for planning?



Most groups have to meet during lunch. For in-depth planning and activity set-up, evening meetings also occur. In boarding academies, specific evening time can be scheduled. On occasion, a class period where all of one class or group are in attendance will be permitted.




Mary Kobberstad | vice-principal
auburn adventist academy



Randy Pausch, faculty member, researcher, and mentor at Carnegie Mellon University, presented “The Last Lecture” which went viral on YouTube a few years ago. It was a one-of-a-kind lecture given only a short time before losing his battle with pancreatic cancer. Among the many insightful words of wisdom was a quote that really resonated with me. “Experience is what you get when you did not get what you wanted.  And experience is often the most valuable thing you have to offer.”

This seems to summarize well what I have experienced over many years as a faculty sponsor. I have had a lot of experience resulting from things not going the way they were drawn up or intended and often did not result in the desired outcome.  When reflecting on what I have learned over many years about sponsoring a class, organization, or club, I have narrowed it down to five general principles.

First, be flexible.  If it can change direction, it likely will.  If you go into the situation knowing that you need a plan A, B, and C, you may also want to consider a plan D.  There are times I feel like I needed the entire alphabet of plans before it finally came together.

Second, don’t underestimate kids.  Kids are maddening, and frustrating.  Their first propensity is to goof off immediately followed with procrastination.  They appear unorganized and unmotivated.  They have everything on their minds but the subject at hand in planning and work sessions.  When it comes down to crunch time, however, they are extremely resilient.  They can accomplish a tremendous amount in a very short period of time.  They almost always rise to the occasion, surprise you, and pull it off at the last minute.  Allow them to lead, give them responsibility, and more times than not they will be successful.

Third, let them make mistakes.  I learned early in my sponsoring years that if you tell them something will not work or they cannot do it for legitimate reasons (like they do not have the money, etc.), they will resent you and feel like you are stifling their ideas.  If they bring you an unrealistic plan, let them work through the process.  Have them prepare a budget, organize a time-line, write the petitions, do the groundwork.  Very often they will then come back to you; tell you that it is too much effort, there is not enough time, or the plan simply will not work and a new idea is needed.

Fourth, keep a sense of humor.  This is mostly for your own sanity.  If you cannot stop and laugh once in a while, you will go nuts.  Students respond to humor and it does magic in relieving stressful moments.  Be willing to laugh at yourself and at the situation.  In those extreme stressful situations, look for ways to get a little comic relief in.

Fifth, never hesitate to bribe students.  Food is a great motivator – I find donuts work the best!

So when things do not go the way you planned and you are down to plan Z, incorporate these principles and let the truth of experience enrich your life as a sponsor.

Newsletter Coordinator

Dennis Plubell

Vice-President for Education
North Pacific Union Conference

Newsletter Editors

Berit von Pohle, Editor

Pacific Union Conference, Director of Education

Ed Boyatt, Editorial Advisor